Quite how The Apprentice wound up being one of the most anticipated TV events of the year is anybody’s guess, but its return on Wednesday night seemed to arouse a kind of feverish hysteria in even the most discerning of viewers. In the past 24 hours I’ve had people confess to me it is one of the only programmes they actually sit down and watch with their other half, people who avoid reality TV like the plague telling me they love it, and even one or two people practically falling at my feet and thanking me for telling them it was on. So what’s the attraction?
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Well personally for me it’s the prospect of seeing Britain’s so-called ‘finest business brains’ flap and bluster when thrown in at the deep end on tasks that appear to be completely out of their comfort zone. Wednesday’s series opener, for example, saw the 15 candidates (originally 16 but one – revealed in the papers yesterday as Essex boy Adam Freeman – pulled out before shooting began) put to task on running a car cleaning business, which included buying the equipment within their given budget, hosing down the vehicles themselves and making a tidy profit in the process.
Cue, scrubbing car seats without flooding the interiors, running round shopping centre car parks in a desperate attempt to drum up more business….the list is endless. In the end the boys’ team scored a narrow victory after the girls team spent too much of their allotted cash, and Anita, a rather stern-looking lawyer who couldn’t argue as effectively as the other girls in the firing line was shown the door faster than you could say, “So then, what was it you contributed to this task exactly?”. In the taxi on the way home she predicted that Sir Alan would, in years to come, realised “he made a huge mistake” by firing her. Somehow we doubt it.
So what of the other candidates? Well early standouts include Philip, an enthusiastic Geordie whose voice appears to become almost incomprehensible at moments of high excitement, schoolteacher turned ridiculously over-confident hopeful Noorul (we give him two weeks) and, for the girls, loud-mouthed New Yorker Kimberly and uber-bitchy Debra who we suspect survived the initial firing due to her ability to talk louder and make for more interesting TV than the silent, sulky Anita.
It’s business as usual, in other words.